Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, padmapani- seated

11th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

11th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

One often thinks of Avalokiteshvara Padmapani as standing, but he may be seated, usually with a leg pendant. His right arm is extended with the hand in the generosity mudra, his left arm may be held down as if he were leaning on it whilst his hand clenches the stem of his distinctive lotus.

11th c., Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Khasarpani, c.a., Amitabha, private on HAR

(The effigy of buddha Amitabha in his crown helps identify him).

13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

13th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

More often, the left hand is held at heart level in the teaching gesture. This richly gilt sculpture, probably made by a Newar artist, doesn’t have an effigy of Amitabha in its headdress but the bodhisattva’s hand position (added to the absence of attributes corresponding to other bodhisattvas) indicate that this is likely to be Avalokiteshvara.

16th-17th c., Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and coral inlay, photo by Christie's.

16th-17th c., Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and coral inlay, photo by Christie’s.

Sometimes the stem of the lotus starts from the base and passes through his hand. Alternatively, the lotus is attached to his elbow, as on the above figure, which displays Tibetan features (broad serene face, use of coral and turquoise inlay, straight posture), Nepalese features (double-lotus base with round petals, lavish gilding), Indian features (the lotuses on each side and the tall chignon topped with a finial or knop) and Chinese features (the generous draping of the dhoti and the design of the earrings).

 

 

 

 

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